Published March 19, 2012 by jay p laughlin

ZK was starting to walk but she kept swinging her right leg out. To confirm that nothing was wrong, our pediatrician referred us to a gait specialist. Of course, by the time I took ZK to see the specialist her rightward swing had stopped. ZK still wasn’t walking on her own (at 16 months) and always wanted to hold someone’s hand. The gait specialist reassured us that this was probably just some trepidation on ZK’s part.

I took her to the play area in the mall one day after this visit. It was 7:30am so there were no other kids around. When I placed ZK on the ground something happened. She broke loose from her timid shell and started walking on her own, a lot. And she also started to climb the play equipment. From that point forward, she has been quite a go-getter.

This new and improved, independently mobile ZK also coincided with another upgrade. Word-power. She has, for some time now, been able to comprehend a lot of what we say to her. She even understands a lot of the French that I use. (For example, Ou sont tes singes? Les fées sont cachées dans la boite). But it wasn’t until after her break-out walking moment that she really started trying to say words other than mama, bark-bark, Zat? (What’s that?) and Hi!

The first to arrive was Bye. Shortly after 16 months, she started using it. Though, at first, she sometimes used it in place of Hi we were able to model correct use for her and she caught on by the third day. A week later we were again at the play area in the mall when she pointed to the letter D. I said “Dee, duh” and she responded “Dee, duh.” I was excited and we kept repeating it for a while. Uh-oh followed soon after. But my favorite thus far is that she can now say Papa…okay, so she still calls me mama and she pronounces it a bit more closely to baba (which isn’t too shabby given that the sounds “p” and “b” are articulated the same way but the former is unvoiced while the latter is voiced). So close.

To add to the list, she can sometimes say Z, says baby, and tries to say diaper but really just manages to mimic the cadence. There is too much to cover everything, but the list grows regularly. It’s exciting times because soon I will be able to teach her fire-ball and magic-missile spells of sufficient strength to put a serious wrench in an ogre’s day.

In other news, she had a boyfriend for a day. They met at the play gym in the mall. He walked up to her and gave her a hug. She responded by giving him a kiss. Yup, her first kiss was at 17…months not years. When she’s older and looks fondly upon her life, and reminisces about her first kiss, she’ll have to add the qualification “the first that I can remember” because I doubt this one was impactful (yes, I used that word) enough to have won a place in her long-term memory.


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